[Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom recently did a wide-ranging interview with Swedish outlet Gefle Dagblad. The translation of that interview appears below.]
It’s been a month since your team got bounced from the playoffs and you have had some time to put things in perspective. And you had a thumb injury that prevented you from participating in the World Championship. How’s your thumb feeling now?
It had to heal on its own, they couldn’t do anything to speed up the process. It was a fracture at first but then I tore the ligament and everything. But I feel much better now. I have regained feeling in the thumb and I can move it much better now.
How much did the thumb injury really affect you?
Of course I was affected by it, and of course you want to be 100%. But that’s hockey, injuries happen. You just have to accept the reality as it it and live with it.
It was not like I had broken foot so that I couldn’t skate. But it sucks to get this type of injury, sort of a "semi-injury" with just seven or eight games left before the playoffs. But there is nothing I can do about that now.
How do you view your season? You produced far fewer points this year than you did last year.
For me personally the stats mean a lot. I get judged based on how I produce - that’s just the way it is. But as a team I really think we had a decent regular season. We improved our defense, and when you do that you almost automatically score fewer goals. That was done with purpose and intent.
And I think it still felt good for us against the Rangers.
But then came Tampa - and I must say that they had us fooled completely with the way they played. We had no solutions. We couldn’t find a way to fix it or correct our mistakes. We couldn't solve them. They had a goalkeeper who stood on his head at times and stopped us. It's a little bit annoying actually. Frustrating.
What exactly does the team lack?
To be honest I don’t know. As I said - we tried to play more defensively. You have to play as a team and everyone must contribute in the playoffs and your goalie has to be really good. Then you need some luck too. And players like myself have to perform better.
I’m not making excuses but the opponents of course always use their best defensive players against the top lines. Especially in a playoff. I talked with Jason Arnott about this, he has been in many playoffs. When the opponents do manage to erase the top players it’s critical that other players step up and perform.
But as I said, I should have performed better. I must say it’s very frustrating.
At the same time, it must be something you can take advantage of now. You must be very motivated to train even harder.
Yeah that’s true. I have already trained for two weeks here at home. I train Monday through Friday, and on the weekends I do other stuff like playing tennis and things like that.
I understand you changed your personal trainer this summer. From Anders Bergström to the old skater Sebastian Falk.
Yes, I have trained with Anders for four years, and he has really helped me a lot. But I felt it was time to try something new, so I contacted Sebastian. He has worked with Brynäs previously and I have heard nothing but good things about him. So this summer I have worked with him in Sandviken, the training facility out there at Göransson Arena is really good. It feels like I made the right decision.
What have you focused on?
I want to improve my skating technique, so that’s what we are working on. You don’t use the exact same technique in speed skating as you do when you play hockey. But you do work on the same stuff in the preseason. And Sebastian seems to be really good and have very clever solutions and ideas.
We focus on agility, explosiveness and balance, things that I think I need to work on.
Any other plans for the summer?
Nothing special. I'm going to spend most of the time here at home.
How are things with [your new] house?
I’m really pleased with the house. A lot of people are interested and curious about it and I can understand that.
This thing with you giving your name to the rink in Valbo, what can you say about that?
I can’t really talk about it just yet. We will see what happens. I’m really excited about it but nothing is finalized we will see how things turn out.